Sunday, December 1, 2013

5th Night of Chanukah: The Embarrassment - Retrospective tape (1984, Fresh Sounds)

What’s in a name?  The moniker of this Wichita, Kansas based entity actually should have been turned on it’s head and used to refer to the morass of their mainstream, 1980s contemporaries (dare I mention Night Ranger of Survivor for starters)?   Lauded by critics at the time (but generally forgotten about at this stage in the game) the key ingredients of The Embarrassment's nervy, mid-fi concoction consisted of Bill Goffrier's roughewn splay of clangy chords clad to John Nichols offbeat, albeit slyly melodic approach.  Think early Violent Femmes thrown into a blender with Great Plains or Volcano Suns, and you'll have a loose idea as to what the Embarrassment had in store. There was truly a moxie to their endearing madness, and for awhile (particularly the '90s) they were the stuff of cult-classic legend.  

The cassette-only Retrospective is as it's name implies.  One side studio material, the other live.  At the time this scarce reel hit the market, The Embarrassment had parted ways with an album, and ep and a single to their credit.  While Retro... isn't a thorough distillation of those releases it contains the band's signature piece "Sex Drive" along with eight more studio cuts, including a couple of tracks that never made it to their 1995 two disk anthology, Heyday 1979-83.  I suppose the real draw here for established fans is the live side of this tape, featuring nine tracks that I believe are exclusive to this release.  Among several spirited originals are covers of The Seeds "Pushin to Hard," and even Michael Jackson's "Don't Stop (Til You Get Enough," the latter of which is pulled off quite well considering it was fed though the Embarrassments meager deliver system.  If this tape persuades you in the least, I'd heartily recommend the aforementioned Heyday compilation, a bountiful 42 song collection containing the brunt of the Embarrassment oeuvre.  For now, enjoy this tape.

studio - side a.
01. Sex Drive
02. Berliners Night Out
03. Two Week Vacation
04. Can't Forget
05. Special Eyes
06. Two Cars
07. Sexy Singer Girl
08. Age Five
09. She's One

live, side b.
10. Pushin' Too Hard
11. Woods of Love
12. Time Has Come Today
13. Casual Man
14. I Only Want a Date
15. Podman
16. Lifespan
17. Celebrity Art Party
18. Don't Stop (Til You Get Enough



bglobe313 said...

Awhile back, during yet another "challenging time", I got semi-fanatical about this band. Even though the tunes and lyrics were often kind of off-base and jarring, the best of the them seemed to me to have oddly a directness and purity of vision. They really seemed to know what they were trying to do, and they were able to pull it off. Just amazing to "discover" such a band. Big Dipper is damn good too.

The Embarrassment also had some great videos, see YouTube.

Ace K.

spavid said...

Holy cow Ace, are tastes overlap to an unbelievable extent. I would leave you my music collection in my will...but you'd already have 90% of it. I agree, The Embarrassment definitely have the stripe of purity that we're not likely to come across again.

bglobe313 said...

We do seem to be abnormally overlapping here. Even taking into account the old saw about "great minds think alike," this is kind of ridiculous. (There was once another blog, where the guy was posting his rips of vinyl LPs, and I swore he must have been sneaking into my house and digging through my boxes.)

Thank god I know nothing of Sugarplastic!

Ace K.

P.S. Made it through Thanksgiving.

Rick Hellman said...

The Embos, as they were affectionately known in Kansas, kicked ass, despite their horn-rimmed Dilbert looks. I danced my ass off to their jerky yet hard-driving sounds many nights at the Lawrence Opera House, KC's Music Box and other venues. Bill Goffrier is an amazing guitarist, combining propulsive rhythm with flaying lead lines. They were sui generis and badly overlooked by the music biz.

Brushback said...

I found a copy of this tape a year or so ago that sounds kinda wobbly, so it's awesome that I can now have a nice clean rip of it. Thanks- I've listened to this in the car every day this week.

Robert Nagle said...

Wow, love this band; thanks for the recommendation & download.

Man, on the same day I listened to these tracks I also listened to the Saints (from Australia) for the first time.

A totally awesome day!

Unknown said...

need the re-upload dog. heard two week vaca on youtube and im addicted. gotta heard more of this band!